1 The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) released the ComCare Annual Report FY2021 and the ComCare Trends Report FY2017–2021 today. Around 45,000 households received ComCare assistance in FY2021, a drop of 3% compared to over 46,000 households assisted in FY2020 when Singapore was at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of households assisted by ComCare remains higher than the annual average pre-COVID-19 levels of around 39,000 households from FY2017-2019. MSF disbursed $177 million in ComCare assistance in FY2021, a decrease from $236 million disbursed in FY2020, but higher than the annual average of around $136 million from FY2017 to 2019.
Short-to-Medium Term Assistance (SMTA)
2 Around 34,000 households were assisted with SMTA in FY2021, a decrease of over 5% compared to around 36,000 households assisted in FY2020. The number of households assisted with SMTA had averaged around 28,000 per year from FY2017 to FY2019, but increased significantly in FY2020 due to the economic impact of COVID-19 and the flexibilities exercised by Social Service Offices (SSOs) during the pandemic to provide ComCare support. For instance, MSF automatically extended the duration of support of ComCare beneficiaries whose assistance ended between May and October 2020 by a further six months, to give them more time to stabilise their circumstances. Most new ComCare beneficiaries assisted between April and December 2020 received at least six months of assistance.
Long-Term Assistance (LTA)
3 Around 3,900 households were assisted with LTA in FY2021, a decrease of nearly 4% compared to around 4,100 households assisted in FY2020. This was consistent with the gradual decline in LTA beneficiaries observed in previous years. The trend could be due to more Singaporeans continuing to earn income from employment and enhancements in support for seniors (e.g. introduction of the Silver Support Scheme in 2016).
Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA)
4 Around 11,000 individuals were assisted with SCFA in FY2021, an increase of 12% compared to around 10,000 individuals assisted in FY2020. This could be attributed to a 7% larger citizen birth cohort in 2014 compared to 2013 , as well as more students qualifying for SCFA in 2021 after the income eligibility criteria was enhanced in July 2020. The number of individuals on SCFA had ranged between 9,000 and 10,000 from FY2017 to FY2019.
Interim Assistance Schemes (IAS)
5 ComCare Interim Assistance is disbursed through community touchpoints to provide quick financial assistance to individuals and families with urgent needs. Around 7,400 individuals were assisted with IAS in FY2021, a decrease of over 21% compared to around 9,400 individuals assisted in FY2020. This is comparable to the annual average of around 7,200 assisted from FY2017 to FY2019.
6 Commenting on the ComCare Trends Report and the Annual Report, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Health Mr Masagos Zulkifli said, “The reports provide encouraging signs that families and individuals are recovering from the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the Government will continue to keep a close eye on developments that may affect livelihoods in Singapore, such as the rising costs of living due to global inflation. For example, MSF introduced temporary measures from April to September this year to give new ComCare applicants at least six months of assistance, provide current clients with at least three months more of assistance, and exercise greater flexibility to provide more cash assistance where needed. We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our support if necessary to provide more assistance to low-income groups. We also hope that more people and organisations will step forward to partner us in helping those in need.”
Providing additional assistance in challenging times
7 Aside from additional assistance that was implemented quickly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, MSF introduced measures in 2022 to help ComCare beneficiaries cope with the increases in prices of goods and services due to supply chain disruptions and the conflict in Ukraine. The measures ran from April to September 2022 and included granting all new SMTA applicants with at least six months of assistance, providing those who sought SMTA renewal with at least three months more of assistance, and exercising greater flexibility to provide more cash assistance where needed.
Increasing ComCare assistance
8 MSF also increased the amount of assistance for both ComCare SMTA and LTA schemes from 1 August 2022. A one-person household on ComCare LTA now receives more cash assistance of $640 per month, compared to $600 per month previously. SMTA households also benefit from more cash assistance and support for their utility expenses. For example, a 4-person household comprising parents and children can expect an increase of about $130 per month in SMTA cash assistance, as well as increased assistance for utility bills.
Making it easier to apply for assistance
9 MSF has made it more convenient for individuals and families to apply for ComCare and other assistance, and will continue to do so. Since May 2022, MSF has started accepting online applications for ComCare via the SupportGoWhere (SGW) portal, and applicants can also submit supporting documents and track their application status online. MSF has also streamlined processes so that ComCare clients need not submit additional application forms and supporting documents or undergo repeated mean-testing to benefit from other Government schemes. For MediFund assistance and bursaries for ITE and polytechnic students, eligible ComCare families already do not need to apply for each scheme separately. Scheme bundles for school-going children from ComCare families that covers the Ministry of Education’s Financial Assistance Scheme and MSF’s Student Care Fee Assistance were also introduced in the first half of 2022. More of such bundles will be progressively rolled out.
10 If anyone encounters a neighbour, friend or family member who needs support, they can call the ComCare hotline at 1800-222-0000 or refer them to the nearest SSO or Family Service Centre for assistance. Those looking to make a difference in the lives of families and individuals in need can also access the MSFCare Network portal, which allows them to explore volunteering opportunities that match their preferred causes and interest areas.
MINISTRY OF SOCIAL AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT